Winter Reading Challenge

Kathleen at Rock Creek Rumblings is hosting the Winter Reading Challenge.  The rules are as easy as ramen noodles, and the result is much more nourishing. You list the books you intend to read in December, January and February.  It could be one book, it could be five: it’s not a competition.  The idea is to read intentionally.  You might say it is planning your menu instead of figuring out your consumption on the fly.  Consider joining us. (I’m adding my list to this post later today.)

I’m getting excited about a Christmas project we’re doing for our grandson Gavin who is almost three years old.  We are buying him children’s books and making CDs of Papa and Nana reading the books.  His folks asked us not to give him toys this year (he has so many already); with a mischievous grin said that he liked books.  As if books weren’t my favorite gift in the world to give.  As if.  Curt said, “I get Yellow and Pink!”  I’m still too delighted about the idea to make a decision on which books to read.

I try to read 50 pages a day.  It’s a baseline I’ve decided on, just like trying to drink two quarts of water daily.  During these dark winter nights I run into this problem…

Reading Myself to Sleep
by Billy Collins

The house is all in darkness except for this corner bedroom
where the lighthouse of a table lamp is guiding
my eyes through the narrow channels of print,

and the only movement in the night is the slight
swirl of curtains, the easy lift and fall of my breathing,
and the flap of pages as they turn in the wind of my hand.

Is there a more gentle way to go into the night
than to follow an endless rope of sentences
and then to slip drowsily under the surface of a page

into the first tentative flicker of a dream,
passing out of the bright precincts of attention
like cigarette smoke passing through a window screen?

All late readers know this sinking feeling of falling
into the liquid of sleep and then rising again
to the call of a voice that you are holding in your hands,

as if pulled from the sea back into a boat
where a discussion is raging on some subject or other,
on Patagonia or Thoroughbreds or the nature of war.

Is there a better method of departure by night
than this quiet bon voyage with an open book,
the sole companion who has come to see you off,

to wave you into the dark waters beyond language?
I can hear the rush and sweep of fallen leaves outside
where the world lies unconscious, and I can feel myself

dissolving, drifting into a story that will never be written,
letting the book slip to the floor where I will find it
in the morning when I surface, wet and streaked with daylight.

11 thoughts on “Winter Reading Challenge

  1. What a neat idea!!  Having Grandpa’s (and ma’s) voice recorded.   Doesnt Sherry at Semicolon have a preschool reading list?  Sounds like a good place to start.  I think there are 150 books on her list.
    It’s embarassing to tell you how early I fell asleep last night…

  2. I have never read *Yellow and Pink*  but feel as now I must.  Perhaps it will go on my Winter Reading Challenge and I will feel accomplished when I actually finish one of the books on my list.

  3. $54!! Last time we checked out the library’s battered old copy I said, “We need to buy our own copy because you know one of these days the library is going to pitch this!”
    Maybe I should just keep the library’s copy and pay the fee!!  Well, maybe not.
    Love that book!
    I’ll have to think about the book list…I’m really behind in my reading.

  4. How funny, I checked both and eBay and you cannot get “Yellow and Pink” for less than $30!!! And one of them was soft cover, even.  Geesh. Must be a collector’s item, eh?And I’d love to do your Winter Reading Challenge, but there’s no way I could manage to read 5 books PLUS all the texts I have coming up đŸ˜¦  I am very much looking forward to my two classes entitled, “American Masterworks” and “The American Novel: 1915-1945,” though.  Should keep me reading at LEAST 50 pages a day!

  5. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Yellow and Pink! We don’t do a lot of picture book reading here anymore, but I’m going to see if our library has it anyway.
    I’ll be joining the challenge – putting some thought as to my list.
    And, I love that poem. I am so glad you introduced me to Billy Collins!
    I finished The Warden last night. Delightful. I loved the passage that talked about why self-important men visit their attorneys. ~grin~ I’m going to start Vanity Fair as my classic now, but I will be getting to Barchester Towers soon.

  6. Yes, Yellow and Pink is OOP (out of print).  Thankfully we have a copy at home we can give Gavin, but I will be on the prowl for additional copies.  Who knew it would be so expensive to get? It’s only 32 pages. I wish I had stockpiled it earlier.I strolled into our lovely local independent bookstore looking for a copy, but they didn’t have any in stock.  Who knew…Two carved wooden puppets discuss where they came from.  One argues for evolution and one argues that a carpenter made him.  Very cute.  If I could find my copy (???) I’d give you a quote.

  7. I’ve never heard of Yellow and Pink either.  Many years ago my dear FIL made a cassette (yes that long ago) tape of him reading Peter Rabbit for all his grandchildren.  It was much loved for many years.  I’m sure your grandchildren will cherish this gift for many years to come.Glad your joining in the challenge, I look forward to your list.

  8. This is a very good poem. I am a six grader, and during my class meeting today, we discussed “Reading myself to sleep.” We were to read this many times and just jot down thoughts, hyperboles, and analogies. To really understand, I sugject reading with a partner and really focusing into the deep meanings.Also, remember not to be to literal, that was a problem for many.

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